by Eve Triem
Travelers notice this town for its bricks,
(warehouse and mill) sun-and-snow weathered
to apricot and dahlia.
And then that it is a port,
the streets in waves winding from a river
and flying the side of a hill, like gulls.
They will climb the stair-sprayed hill—
the hill, a ball-player’s arm swung up for a catch
lost in the sun.
The townsmen below are as small as bees,
and as bright as bees in their summer clothes.
steering their cars by elm-showered stoplights,
adding more boats, this might be Providence or Bangor:
cupolas, lookouts, widow-walks,
but for the glowing brick, the balconies,
the French Provincial shape to the meanest houses.
It is New Orleans,
swept up from the Delta before the railroad time,
the black faces, the Creole place-names.
New Orleans, in the ironwork fencing the balconies,
a foliage of iron over the double glass doors,
wintry twigs of iron rimming the cornices.
missing the fighting cocks, the steeple pigeons,
the mills’ steam whistles will startle
numerous jays into cornet calls,
will send them like a trellis of morning glories
into the thick of a pin-oak,
to drop for the reassurance of travelers
three clear notes
like river-clam pearls.
PHOTO: Dubuque, Iowa, riverfront. Photo by David Mark, used by permission.
NOTE: Dubuque, Iowa, is located along the Mississippi River, at the junction of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. A tourist destination thanks to the city’s unique architecture and river location, the population stands at about 58,000. The first permanent European settler was Quebecois pioneer Julien Dubuque, who arrived in 1785. In 1788, he received permission from the Spanish government and the local Meskwaki Native Americans to mine the area’s rich lead deposits. Control of Louisiana and Dubuque’s mines shifted briefly back to France in 1800, then to the United States in 1803, following the Louisiana Purchase. The city of Dubuque was officially chartered in 1833, located in unorganized territory of the United States. The region, designated as the Iowa Territory in 1838, was included in the newly created State of Iowa in 1846.
PHOTO: Dubuque, Iowa, Mississippi Riverfront, by David Mark, used by permission.